Updated Commercial Radio Policy A Plus For Emerging Acts

In compiling the latest policy blueprint, the Commission held extensive consultations that included 218 interventions, 158 of which were submitted by individuals and 60 by various companies, organizations and interest groups.

In the preface to the policy doc that was last updated in 2014, the regulator stated that at the time of the issuance of this regulatory policy, “new legislation with substantial changes to the Broadcasting Act (the Act) is awaiting approval by Parliament. The revised Act would provide new tools to address some of the structural issues affecting conventional radio stations, especially as they compete directly for listeners with streaming services. Accordingly, the elements of this regulatory policy are meant to work both under the current Act and in the environment of a new Act, and future proceedings that are being announced as part of this regulatory policy are meant to work seamlessly in either legislative environment.”

Key changes include “added flexibility” to the Common Ownership Policy, modifications to the system for identifying Canadian musical selections and eliminating the hits policy in bilingual markets. In addition, some changes are focused on supporting creators and Canadians, such as ensuring that Canadian and French-language vocal music quotas can no longer be circumvented through montages and through the Commission’s intention to launch a follow-up proceeding to explore a contribution system for Canadian content development (CCD) that is more adapted to the evolution of commercial radio and ensures funding is directed towards diverse initiatives.

Further, given the importance of broadcasting musical selections from emerging artists as a means of ensuring the discoverability of those artists, sustaining a vibrant Canadian musical industry, and providing listeners with the variety they seek, the Commission states that it must “encourage” the broadcast of emerging artists’ music on commercial radio stations and that it must gather more information on the situation facing these artists ASAP. No timeline is offered.

The regulator declares that a Canadian artist shall be considered an emerging artist until a period of 48 months has elapsed since the release of the artist’s first commercially marketed song.

For the purpose of this definition, the concept of an artist includes duos, trios or groups of artists operating under a defined identity. If a member of a duo, trio or group begins a solo career or creates with other partners a new duo, trio or group with a new identity, the solo artist or duo, trio or group shall be considered an “emerging artist” according to the above criteria.

Accordingly, the Commission expects commercial radio stations that are not already required by the condition of licence to broadcast music by emerging artists to devote, in each broadcast week, at least 5% of their musical selections to selections from Canadian emerging artists. Further, it expects licensees of those stations to report annually on how they have met that expectation.

Regarding Indigenous Peoples, the Commission considers it has a key role to play in ensuring increased support for and presence of Indigenous content and voices within mainstream radio broadcasting. Accordingly, the Commission expects commercial radio broadcasters to include Indigenous music in their playlists and to report annually on the amount of Indigenous content aired throughout the broadcast year. Additionally, the Commission intends to gather information on different funds and initiatives that help support, promote and ensure the sustainability of the Indigenous broadcasting content sector through the launch of a follow-up proceeding to explore the CCD contribution system.

Meanwhile, the Commission continues the co-development of a new Indigenous broadcasting policy with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Some of the outcomes from that process may impact all broadcasting sectors of Canada, including commercial radio stations.

Additional reading:

CRTC allows broadcasters to operate one more FM, upholds CanCon requirements -- Connie Thiessen, Broadcast Dialogue

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